Twitter sued over its users violating UK superinjunction

An unnamed footballer has decided to sue Twitter after some of its users revealed the name of the player who allegedly had an affair with model Imogen Thomas. The footballer’s legal team took action against the social media giant in a London court on Wednesday for allowing its users to break a privacy injunction.

Earlier this month, several Twitter users, named as “persons unknown” in the lawsuit’s documents, published not only the identity of the player but also those who had allegedly taken out gagging orders to keep the matter private. The account in question quickly attained upwards of 100,000 followers for leaking the information.

The Guardian reported that Lord Judge, lord chief justice of the case, said on Friday that the users of Twitter were “totally out of control when it comes to privacy injunctions and court orders.” Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt and other politicians also accused Twitter of making “an ass of the law” after users have breached several injunctions relating to celebrities’ privacy.

As the footballer was granted a “superinjunction” – a type of injunction in England and Wales that prohibits the media from even discussing or reporting the existence/details of the injunction – users that not only reported the name of the footballer in question but also the nature of the injunction could be subject to legal action.

It is now up to the courts to decide whether Twitter, the main and only named defendant in the case, is directly responsible for the content its users tweet; a judgement that in favour of this would have huge implications for social media. Further, as users directly violated Twitter’s Terms of Service that states you can only use the service in compliance with “all applicable local, state, national and international laws,” the case could lead to said users having their account information, including IP addresses, subpoenaed.

Thanks to Jedimark for the tip via the forums

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Nobody cares except a few sad individuals, himself and his wife.

Unfortunately the guy is an absolute nobber and this action has done nothing to further publish the fact that it's true. Before it was just possibly a libelous tweet and his word against a tarts. By suing the company for breach of a "SuperInjunction" he's brought attention to the fact that their is one and also the fact their wouldn't be one if their was nothing to hide.

I hope his suing twitter falls flat on his face and his wife takes his cheating a*** to the cleaner for everything she can get.

He is just as responsible as she is as for him because he is rich having special powers to keep his affairs private that is utter nonsense. those super-injunctions are just for the rich some country the UK. I wouldn't want to live there or even visit. As for them having bearing elsewhere in the world I think not, the UK is not subject to our courts nor are we subject to there's

It's an Injunction a super injunction is extremely rare the last one was apparaently in the early 2000's. If it was a super injunction no one would know that it even existed.

If this about said footballer then going on the article Neowin and all talking about it and naming said footballer could be in breach!

I also thought that twitter wasn't being sued but being compelled to give uo information on individual users.

The twitter account in question is @injunctionsuper and the posts he placed were all over the place if some **** sticked then unlucky but frankly Jemima Khan and Jeremy Clarkson... Are you taking the ****.

or did that tart shag Ryan Giggs for a story worth $$$$ and now they're all ****y because he couldn't keep it in his pants and she's such a slapper she'd do a donkey if the money was good enough

Lets not forget that some of these super injunctions are taken out by companies - what have they got to hide ?

Oh and Ryan Giggs did shag that tart.

If a super injunction prevents the press from reporting a particular subject, and even reporting the existence of the injunction itself, then how are websites like Twitter supposed to know such an injunction exists?

Since when did Twitter become "the press" ?

And finally... why is it that the press are allowed to report that Imogen Thomas had an affair with an a famous footballer, thus naming her (the single woman), but not the footballer (the married man) ? She was free to do this, she has no commitments, yet the married guy just buys the silence of the press!

The law in this country is pathetic.

Hardcore Til I Die said,
If a super injunction prevents the press from reporting a particular subject, and even reporting the existence of the injunction itself, then how are websites like Twitter supposed to know such an injunction exists?

Since when did Twitter become "the press" ?

And finally... why is it that the press are allowed to report that Imogen Thomas had an affair with an a famous footballer, thus naming her (the single woman), but not the footballer (the married man) ? She was free to do this, she has no commitments, yet the married guy just buys the silence of the press!

The law in this country is pathetic.


The press is able to say there is an injunction, just not who the claimant is.

And Imogen can be named because "CTB" is the one who applied for the injunction, in part to stop her from selling the story. She isn't the claimant, thus doesn't fall inside the bounds of the order.

M2Ys4U said,

The press is able to say there is an injunction, just not who the claimant is.

And Imogen can be named because "CTB" is the one who applied for the injunction, in part to stop her from selling the story. She isn't the claimant, thus doesn't fall inside the bounds of the order.

A super injunction is an injunction where the press aren't allowed to report the existence of the injunction or any details of it.

This is my point though.. these sorts of injunctions aren't available to normal people because they can't afford them. You shouldn't be able to buy privacy, it should be available to everyone. I've never heard of these types of injunctions being granted to somebody on Legal Aid.

Hardcore Til I Die said,
This is my point though.. these sorts of injunctions aren't available to normal people because they can't afford them. You shouldn't be able to buy privacy, it should be available to everyone. I've never heard of these types of injunctions being granted to somebody on Legal Aid.

Let's be realistic here. The chances of crazy media coverage on someone who's on legal aid are pretty darn slim. No one gives a flying monkey's poo who some random nobody sleeps with or does in their spare time. A local, national or even international celebrity is a completely different story.

I'm not saying that I disagree, just that it's not really important per se.

nekkidtruth said,

Let's be realistic here. The chances of crazy media coverage on someone who's on legal aid are pretty darn slim. No one gives a flying monkey's poo who some random nobody sleeps with or does in their spare time. A local, national or even international celebrity is a completely different story.

I'm not saying that I disagree, just that it's not really important per se.

Police Officers, judges, doctors, etc, "respectable" people attract media attention also and they wouldn't necessarily be able to afford one.

Why does it have to involve "crazy media coverage" - just one local paper printing a story about someone is enough to tarnish their reputation.

I dislike twitter with a passion but to see it used for a decent purpose makes a nice change. Lets just hope the top guns over at twitter have a pair between them and choose to abide by their own local laws and simply ignore draconian judgements handed down in the UK.

Oh and Ryan Giggs is a dick.

It is farsical that the print media, namely The Sun, are claiming this is a free speech issue with public interest at the heart. With Imogen Thomas claiming victim status, she knew what she was doing and now just annoyed she cant sell her story. With News International (News of the World, The Sun's sister paper) embroiled in illegal activities such as 'phone hacking to obtain stories, if the media were more responsible in their work we wouldnt need super injuctions. Nobody is really interested in footballers extra-marital affairs with publicity hungry reality tv stars. Try reporting on the real issues.

Youngy said,
It is farsical that the print media, namely The Sun, are claiming this is a free speech issue with public interest at the heart. With Imogen Thomas claiming victim status, she knew what she was doing and now just annoyed she cant sell her story. With News International (News of the World, The Sun's sister paper) embroiled in illegal activities such as 'phone hacking to obtain stories, if the media were more responsible in their work we wouldnt need super injuctions. Nobody is really interested in footballers extra-marital affairs with publicity hungry reality tv stars. Try reporting on the real issues.

Sad as it makes me to say, people are interested. If they weren't, the red-tops wouldn't sell in the numbers that they do, neither would the Daily Mail.

The reality is that the majority of the population is pretty moronic.

tomjol said,

Sad as it makes me to say, people are interested. If they weren't, the red-tops wouldn't sell in the numbers that they do, neither would the Daily Mail.

The reality is that the majority of the population is pretty moronic.

+1

After footballer was granted with that strange "superinjunction" they should have printed it on some national newspaper to make people aware of that. Also informing all people about that affair

It would be quite stupid if I wrote a comment on some website and accidentally break that superinjunction that I am not aware of.

david13lt said,
After footballer was granted with that strange "superinjunction" they should have printed it on some national newspaper to make people aware of that. Also informing all people about that affair

It would be quite stupid if I wrote a comment on some website and accidentally break that superinjunction that I am not aware of.

The point of a super-injunction is that it prevents the media from reporting on it. They'll get royally screwed if they do.

The media shouldn't be allowed to report on stories like this, because it isn't worth the paper it's printed on, let alone a super-injunction.

david13lt said,
After footballer was granted with that strange "superinjunction" they should have printed it on some national newspaper to make people aware of that. Also informing all people about that affair

It would be quite stupid if I wrote a comment on some website and accidentally break that superinjunction that I am not aware of.

Actually, as far as I'm aware, you can't be held in contempt of court for an injunction that hasn't been served on you.

These so-called "superinjunctions" are temporary in nature, and have a return date on them. During this time they only apply to those that are mentioned explicitly in the order or anybody notified by the claimant. The exemtpion to this is when it falls within the "Spycatcher" rule where the injunction is in effect to *anybody with knowledge of the injunction*.

Now, when these injunctions are returned and the final judgement is handed down, they only apply to those who they are issued against unless it is an Order Contra Mundum (literally "order against the world"), which are used extremely rarely and only in cases where there is serious danger to life.

Source: http://legalpiracy.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/privacy-law-2/

It's a real shame that the UK (where I'm from) doesn't take "Free Speech" as seriously as the Americans do. I take issue with a lot of other American laws (mainly regarding "IP" protection), however one thing is for sure is that they really do value their freedom of speech.

Ok, there was/is the whole Wikileaks thing, however that could be argued that that was related to "National Security", whereas this UK case is a stupid sex scandal!

How on God's earth did the UK come up with a law that says that courts can make everyone in an entire nation (or possibly the world, depending how you interpret the article) keep silent about a particular topic?!?! This just doesn't sit right with me.

rtire said,
It's a real shame that the UK (where I'm from) doesn't take "Free Speech" as seriously as the Americans do. [...]
How on God's earth did the UK come up with a law that says that courts can make everyone in an entire nation (or possibly the world, depending how you interpret the article) keep silent about a particular topic?!?! This just doesn't sit right with me.
I understood injunctions and superinjunctions to be there to prohibit the media (press/news/etc) from reporting it, not for it to be like the official secrets act where you're not allowed to speak of it to anyone. Which wouldn't therefore also mean that the person on twitter would've only broken the law if they were saying it as part of the media, rather than socially, say, as you would to a friend? However I'm not an expert and may have misunderstood the extent to which the superinjunction reaches.

rtire said,
It's a real shame that the UK (where I'm from) doesn't take "Free Speech" as seriously as the Americans do. I take issue with a lot of other American laws (mainly regarding "IP" protection), however one thing is for sure is that they really do value their freedom of speech.

Ok, there was/is the whole Wikileaks thing, however that could be argued that that was related to "National Security", whereas this UK case is a stupid sex scandal!

How on God's earth did the UK come up with a law that says that courts can make everyone in an entire nation (or possibly the world, depending how you interpret the article) keep silent about a particular topic?!?! This just doesn't sit right with me.

The flip-side is the US has no real privacy laws, where the UK (and EU) does by virtue of the Human Rights Act and ECHR respectively. These "superinjunctions" are almost always time-limited and are issued before a full hearing takes place.

It's just a shame that the British media are kicking up a huge fuss over a footballer's affair. It's none of their damn business and the footballer in question (even though we now know who it is...) has the right to a private life.

Determining where to draw the line between Privacy and the Freedom of Expression is a careful balancing act.

How would you like it if details of your sex life were printed in a newspaper and all they had to say about it was "lol STFU free speech!"? There's no public interest in it.

M2Ys4U said,

The flip-side is the US has no real privacy laws, where the UK (and EU) does by virtue of the Human Rights Act and ECHR respectively. These "superinjunctions" are almost always time-limited and are issued before a full hearing takes place.

It's just a shame that the British media are kicking up a huge fuss over a footballer's affair. It's none of their damn business and the footballer in question (even though we now know who it is...) has the right to a private life.

Determining where to draw the line between Privacy and the Freedom of Expression is a careful balancing act.

How would you like it if details of your sex life were printed in a newspaper and all they had to say about it was "lol STFU free speech!"? There's no public interest in it.

They chose a job that is very much in the public domain and get paid damn well to do it. If they can't handle the positive/negative publicity then they should've chose another job or try behaving responsibly (i.e. not cheating on the mrs). I have no sympathy for these people and anybody that does really has a screwed up sense of morality.

M2Ys4U said,

The flip-side is the US has no real privacy laws, where the UK (and EU) does by virtue of the Human Rights Act and ECHR respectively. These "superinjunctions" are almost always time-limited and are issued before a full hearing takes place.

It's just a shame that the British media are kicking up a huge fuss over a footballer's affair. It's none of their damn business and the footballer in question (even though we now know who it is...) has the right to a private life.

Determining where to draw the line between Privacy and the Freedom of Expression is a careful balancing act.

How would you like it if details of your sex life were printed in a newspaper and all they had to say about it was "lol STFU free speech!"? There's no public interest in it.

You're right that people should be entitled to a private life, but these injunctions should be available to everybody in that case - not just those who can afford it.

How is it fair that they're allowed to name one half of the affair and not the other? That just paints the person they're allowed to reveal as the one who's done wrong, because you can't blame an anonymous person!

LordBattleBeard said,
They chose a job that is very much in the public domain and get paid damn well to do it. If they can't handle the positive/negative publicity then they should've chose another job or try behaving responsibly (i.e. not cheating on the mrs). I have no sympathy for these people and anybody that does really has a screwed up sense of morality.

If this were a story related him being a footballer then there may be some public interest, but how is his sex life anybody's business?
Just because somebody is famous doesn't give the press carte blanche to print every detail about their life.

The "right to respect for one's private and family life" is a human right (Article 8, European Convention on Human Rights) - alternatively "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation." (Article 12 Universal Declaration of Human Rights). Human rights are inalienable - they can't be taken away just because somebody is famous.

Of course this needs to be balanced with Article 10 or Article 18 (respectively). The balance between the two is where the debate should be, not whether one should have the right to a private life at all.

M2Ys4U said,

If this were a story related him being a footballer then there may be some public interest, but how is his sex life anybody's business?
Just because somebody is famous doesn't give the press carte blanche to print every detail about their life.

The "right to respect for one's private and family life" is a human right (Article 8, European Convention on Human Rights) - alternatively "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation." (Article 12 Universal Declaration of Human Rights). Human rights are inalienable - they can't be taken away just because somebody is famous.

Of course this needs to be balanced with Article 10 or Article 18 (respectively). The balance between the two is where the debate should be, not whether one should have the right to a private life at all.

European law? I see, another good reason to leave the EU then.

rtire said,
It's a real shame that the UK (where I'm from) doesn't take "Free Speech" as seriously as the Americans do. I take issue with a lot of other American laws (mainly regarding "IP" protection), however one thing is for sure is that they really do value their freedom of speech.

Free speech? How come the media wasn't allowed to show images of soldier's bodies returning from Iraq? That's political manipulation to serve an agenda, yet somehow that's fine and the UK has got it wrong protecting the privacy of an individual? And people in the UK are against super-injunctions, hence all the media coverage about it. The biggest travesty is that American's think they really do have "free speech". What about defamation? Incitement to riot? Obscenity? "Fighting words"? All censored.

Hardcore Til I Die said,
You're right that people should be entitled to a private life, but these injunctions should be available to everybody in that case - not just those who can afford it.

Huh? The only people that need super injunctions ARE the rich and famous. Why would the media report on an affair by John Doe down the street?

theyarecomingforyou said,

Huh? The only people that need super injunctions ARE the rich and famous. Why would the media report on an affair by John Doe down the street?

Police Officers, judges, doctors, etc, "respectable" people attract media attention also and they wouldn't necessarily be able to afford one.

LordBattleBeard said,
European law? I see, another good reason to leave the EU then.

The European Charter of Human Rights is nothing to do with the EU, except in so much that the Lisbon Treaty binds the EU, as a legal entity, to the ECHR.

The ECHR comes from the Council of Europe. The UK actually helped draft the ECHR and many of its concepts come from English common law.

The guy (Ryan Giggs) is an utter moron, only reason he took one out was to stop his wife finding out of a 7 month affair he had with some attention whore reality t.v contestant, only reason why there such a thing as a super injunction is because the judges are so out of touch with reality and like to bend over backwards for people with a bit of money, I hope his wife takes him to the cleaners the spoilt over paid ******

Fubar said,
The guy (Ryan Giggs) is an utter moron, only reason he took one out was to stop his wife finding out of a 7 month affair he had with some attention whore reality t.v contestant, only reason why there such a thing as a super injunction is because the judges are so out of touch with reality and like to bend over backwards for people with a bit of money, I hope his wife takes him to the cleaners the spoilt over paid ******

+1

The guys an idiot. He seems to be the only one that will come out smelling of roses over this with the law on his side.

Fubar said,
The guy (Ryan Giggs) is an utter moron, only reason he took one out was to stop his wife finding out of a 7 month affair he had with some attention whore reality t.v contestant,

By this judge's logic, you (and therefore Neowin) just violated the superinjunction as well.

edit: this comment was supposed to be under Fubar's comment several posts above, but for some reason Neowin is acting strange lately and posting comments in the wrong thread.

From what I've heard this order is similar to a Norwich Pharmacological Order, in other words Twitter is only compelled by the order to release information about those who tweeted information about the injunctions and is not, at the moment, in contempt of court for breaking the injunction themselves.

That said, Twitter does not have any staff or servers in the UK, so the court may have trouble enforcing the order should Twitter choose to disobey it (at which point they *would* be in contempt of court).

M2Ys4U said,
That said, Twitter does not have any staff or servers in the UK, so the court may have trouble enforcing the order should Twitter choose to disobey it (at which point they *would* be in contempt of court).

You can't really be held in contempt of court if you aren't subject to the jurisdiction of that court.

roadwarrior said,

You can't really be held in contempt of court if you aren't subject to the jurisdiction of that court.

Ah, but under the ass that is UK libel law you can be sued if the media is simply available in the UK. This is why UK Libel law is desperately in need of reform.

And yes, I know that being able to be sued and being in contempt of court are different, but it shows how Twitter can be sued despite no UK presence.

How would Twitter have any opportunity to even know about the private injunction to block talking about said injunction?

The nature of its secrecy sort of implies that they can't stop it from happening, except retroactively, when it's already too late to stop.

I can kind of understand the idea that the Twitter user that posted it should be liable, similar to how you are for breaching any other NDA, but how is Twitter at fault?

It's like holding Twitter liable if someone leaks that nVidia is about to announce the Tegra 5 (for example), but it was under NDA. Twitter has no way of knowing ahead of time because they'd have to be included on every NDA to have a chance of blocking it.

This is just another example of judges not understanding technology.

pickypg said,
How would Twitter have any opportunity to even know about the private injunction to block talking about said injunction?

Exactly. It's paradoxical. Ryan Giggs should just man up and take responsibility for his philandering.